Republicans turn to the socialism playbook on Biden's infrastructure bill, labeling anything other than roads and bridges as 'Soviet'

steve scalise matt gaetz jim jordan
House Republicans including Reps. Steve Scalise, Jim Jordan, and Matt Gaetz address reporters during a news conference. Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images
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  • While the parties disagree on infrastructure, the GOP is making false statements and calling the other side "socialist."

  • GOP leadership insists less than 6% of Biden's plan goes to roads and bridges, ignoring EV investments.

  • House Minority Whip Steve Scalise on Wednesday dismissed the bill as "Soviet-style infrastructure."

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Amid arguments over the definition of infrastructure, Republicans are making false statements about President Joe Biden's $2 trillion infrastructure bill and labeling the Democratic effort as "socialist."

The GOP's longstanding strategy of attaching the socialism label to any Democratic policy proposal is not new. It's been the go-to move for the party ever since the rise of the Tea Party in the 2010 midterms, and became integral to former President Donald Trump's losing campaign in 2020.

However, many of the recent socialism critiques of the Biden plan are misleading, particularly in how Republicans have been quibbling over what constitutes infrastructure.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana during a Wednesday news conference compared the American Jobs Plan to the Soviet Union.

"Frankly, when you look at the socialist agenda being pushed Speaker Pelosi and President Biden, people are turning away from it," Scalise said. "They're talking about an infrastructure bill. It's Soviet-style infrastructure, what they're talking about.

"Over 90% of the bill they're proposing has nothing to do with roads and bridges," he continued. "People would expect, if you're gonna have a $2 trillion bill, that it would be all about roads and bridges. Theirs is not. It's a lot of Green New Deal, expanding the role of the federal government."

Scalise's office did not respond to Insider's request for comment about what he meant by invoking the USSR, which fell in 1991.

A recent Morning Consult/Politico poll shows most Republican voters actually like several parts of the Biden infrastructure plan, including parts that are not traditionally defined as strictly infrastructure, such as the expanded child tax credit and increased low-income housing.

But both Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, the Senate and House minority leaders, respectively, have criticized the plan for earmarking less than 6% of its spending to roads and bridges.

Scalise too, with his "over 90%" comment, omitted the $174 billion dedicated to expanding the availability of electric vehicles, which use roads and bridges. Much of the spending in the bill is also left to the discretion of states and local authorities, which does not constitute "expanding the role of the federal government" to the extent Scalise indicated.

McCarthy - who was not in attendance at Wednesday's House GOP leadership press conference - recently dismissed the bill as a "kitchen sink of wasteful progressive demands" while ignoring major items with bipartisan support, such as subsidizing broadband internet access for rural communities.

Outside of the beltway, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem was mocked online for her comments on Fox News, where she wondered aloud why items like "housing and pipes and different initiatives" were included in the bill despite falling well within a general definition of infrastructure.

These claims have taken over the GOP messaging in place of a more viable negotiating posture, which began to emerge on Wednesday when Republican Sen. Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia floated the idea of cutting the bill by more than half to settle around a "sweet spot" figure of $600 billion to $800 billion.

To counter the GOP talking points, the White House released its "infrastructure report cards" on Tuesday to highlight and quantify areas of disrepair state by state.

The home states of Scalise, McCarthy, and Noem received a D-plus and two C-minuses, respectively.

Read the original article on Business Insider